You’ve finally made the commitment to exercise. But if you aren’t exercising correctly, you could be doing your body more harm than good. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), there are some top mistakes that people – regardless of age or physical ability – make repeatedly. Each one can cause stress and injury to the body, and that’s not what your joints need. To get the most from your workout, be sure to follow this list of “dos.”

Warm-up. It’s important for raising body temperature and increasing blood flow to loosen the muscles. When you skip a warm-up, you risk injury and stiffer joints the day after, says Jessie Jones, PhD, professor of kinesiology and health promotion, California State University-Fullerton. A simple warm-up: march in place for five minutes.

Stretch. Stretching gives muscles a full range of motion. “Flexibility is key in preparing for aerobic activity, particularly when dealing with joint stiffness,” says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for ACE. The best stretch? Hamstring stretches. “When a hamstring is tight, it can cause misalignment in the pelvis and knees,” Bryant says.

Cool down. A proper cool-down, which includes deep breathing and long stretches, will get your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure safely back to normal while improving flexibility.

Lift within your range. Weight training increases energy and stamina, but be careful not to overdo it. “Lifting too much too soon is just going to damage the tissue,” Jones says. When weight training, you should feel fatigue by the 12th or 15th repetition, be it a 1-pound or 100-pound weight. Once that becomes easy, add more weight.

Go easy. A workout that’s too intense can put you in an anaerobic state, which means you aren't  getting enough oxygen into your system. That causes joint and tissue pain, says Jones. How do you know if you’re getting the right combination of aerobic activity and oxygen? Find your target heart rate (subtract your age from 220), then shoot for 40 to 70 percent of that rate. “Research has shown that you can improve pain levels and weight loss in an aerobic capacity anywhere after 40 percent,” adds Jones.

But not too easy. In order to lose weight, build muscle and maintain energy levels, a good workout means breaking a small sweat and working out at 40 to 70 percent of your target heart rate. However, there is a fine line for people with arthritis. “You have to work out within your pain level. If you’re hurting a lot over the next couple of days after a workout, you need to change the intensity,” Jones says.